Last week I posted about our unseasonable 65 degree weather in December. On Saturday we had our first snow for the season, an easy to clear, 3 inch snowstorm. My wimpy alpaca boys wouldn’t leave the awning and a grumpy crew they were in the evening at feeding time. We only have the one pen set up, so the barn/awning is basically all open. We moved the feeder inside under the awning for the winter so that the hay doesn’t get wet with snow but the boys still have 4 open stalls, 5 if you include the space in front of the tack room, and the pen. One whole stall per alpaca is quite a lot of room! We have no panels for stalls set up yet, so there’s plenty of space to pronk indoors! We’ve been concerned about their water bucket freezing so lately I’ve been bringing out a gallon jug of hot tap water to add to it. The nights it’s been windy I’ve added 2 jugs. My mixture is about 2 gallons hot water to 3 gallons water from the pump. It makes the water almost lukewarm and the alpacas just love it. We put the bucket on the ground in the corner by the middle post and the pen wall and surrounded it with straw to help insulate it. We’ve put plenty of straw down in the pen and 2 stalls for them to snuggle into to keep warm. We’ll have to keep adding straw over the winter.
On Monday Julio finally got brave and ventured out past the paddock, sniffing the snow on his way to the pasture gate. He was in the other pasture for a good 10 minutes before the others slowly decided to play ‘follow the leader.’ First Coty and then Bo, followed by Arlo with Guinness bringing up the rear. They all managed to find something to graze on but within a short time Bo skedaddled back up to the barn and so did the others. Yesterday they played follow the leader again in the morning. With the sunshine things melted a bit so they were able to graze for over an hour and play for awhile before heading back up to the barn.
Afterwards, they were still being wimpy and hid out under the awning for the rest of the day. Last night they watched us intently as we put up a tarp over one of the awning openings for a windbreak. We covered just one stall so the boys wouldn't be too confused. Then for our added amusement Bo, Coty, and Arlo played 'Ring around the tarp' for awhile. We will probably put up another one tonight or tomorrow. I can't see into the barn from the house as well now with the tarp up, but of course it's more important that the boys be dry and warm enough!
Today, today, we have a real New England storm: it’s noontime, there’s more than 6 inches of snow on the ground, and it’s still coming down fast and furious. Looking outside my den’s window, everything is covered in bright white fluff. Snow is blowing around in the strong winds. The alpacas were all in good spirits this morning while I worked in the barn, and very curious about Stella barking from the entrance gate. They all peered out from under the awning long enough to get their beautiful topknots covered in snow. All except Arlo, who was much more interested in me filling up the hay feeder. True to form, Arlo’s topknot is covered in hay. No one has left the barn again today, but Coty has been happily cushed right between the wall and the hay feeder for hours, with a perfect view of the snowy outside world.